Get streetwise about the New Eastside: A look back at the story of our streets

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

 

City streets can reveal a lot about a neighborhood’s history, and the streets in New Eastside are no exception.

Streetwise Chicago: A History of Chicago Street Names, a book by Don Hayner and Tom McNamee, offers a peek into the histories of street names in Chicago. Some are straightforward, while others are more colorful.

 

South Water Street

South Water Street, according to Streetwise Chicago, was at one time located along the river, where Wacker Drive is today. East South Water Street now runs east to west from North Harbor Drive, eventually merging with Wacker Drive.

The old South Water Street, according to Streetwise, was at one time the location of Chicago’s major market place, with numerous produce stalls. The produce market was relocated to 14th and Morgan in the 1920s when Wacker Drive was built.

 

Wacker Drive

According to Streetwise Chicago, Wacker Drive is named after Charles H. Wacker (1856–1929). He was a brewer, the chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission and director of the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

Wacker helped convince the city to preserve its lakefront and was involved in the development of Burnham and Bennett’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, which produced notable buildings such as the Field Museum and Union Station.

 

Stetson Avenue

Stetson Avenue, which runs north to south from East Wacker Drive to East Randolph Street,  along the eastern side of Prudential Plaza, is named after wealthy businessman Eugene W. Stetson (1882–1959).cording to Streetwise Chicago. Stetson began his professional life in Macon, Georgia, where he earned $40 a month as a bank clerk. He eventually rose to chairman of the executive committee of the Illinois Central Railroad and was a director of the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company. Stetson Avenue was built and named for him in 1955.

Moving the South Water Street Market and turning the street into a double-deck drive was Wacker’s idea.

 

Beaubien Court

North Beaubien Court runs north to south between East Lake Street and East Randolph Street, between Prudential Plaza and Michigan Avenue. It’s a short street with a long history behind its name.

 

According to an April 2017 DNAinfo story, Chicago’s second non-Native settler was a man named Jean Baptiste Beaubien — not to be confused with Chicago’s first non-Native settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. Beaubien was born in Detroit and came to Chicago in 1804, left in 1812 after the battle of Fort Dearborn, and came back around 1817. He was an agent for the American Fur Company and his house was built where the Chicago Cultural Center now stands. Elections were held at his house and at one time he was the wealthiest man in the city.

But there was another, younger Beaubien — Mark, Jean Baptiste’s brother — and Streetwise Chicago makes clear both brothers were noteworthy in their own way. Mark Beaubien came to Chicago and opened the Sauganash Hotel in 1826 at the corner of Lake and Wacker.

“Beaubien would sit on his hotel’s front porch, surrounded by a few or more of his 23 children and shoot ducks on the Chicago River,” Streetwise reports. The younger Beaubien was also a ferryman, a fur trader, a heavy drinker and a “truly wicked fiddle player.”

The street is named for one — or both — of the Beaubien brothers.

 

Theft, bucket boys come up at CAPS Meeting

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

Published October 2, 2018

Theft, ridesharing and street performers were topics of discussion at the September Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting in the 1st District.

 

Theft made up more than half of the district’s crime from Aug. 10 to Sept. 13, and pickpockets account for a lot of those thefts, according to Sgt. Anthony Dombrowski.

 

Dombrowski said pickpockets are attracted to crowded locations, like restaurants, where people aren’t as focused on their personal safety.

 

Thieves also target people whose valuable items are visible.

 

“You should try to be as circumspect as possible with your personal possessions,” Dombrowski said. “I would say 50 percent of our robberies are because people are exposing their cell phone.”

 

Another concern was brought up by a resident, who asked about fake Uber and Lyft drivers in the city.

 

Dombrowski said fake drivers are most often out late at night and early in the morning, looking for intoxicated people to victimize. During the day, actual Uber and Lyft drivers are victimized when they open their car doors and people come into the car to steal items, he added.

 

Dombrowski said he doesn’t think fake Uber and Lyft drivers are a safety issue as long as passenger are taking common sense precautions. Passengers should verify the driver’s identity before getting into the car, he said.

 

Another resident raised concerns about the bucket boys downtown. Using a meter, they measured 100 decibels near the bucket boys, which the resident said could harm hearing.

 

Dombrowski said dealing with this issue is challenging.

 

“The municipal code is very clumsy and very difficult to enforce,” he said. The noise is irritating to many who live and work in the area, but the bucket boys receive a lot of monetary support from people downtown, he said.

 

Dombrowski said people who are not bothered by loud street performances think it’s “charming.”

 

He said the solution is unclear, but being able to quantify the noise level is “wonderful” and suggested the resident contact the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

“These different lifestyles, these different activities are clashing with people that want to live a normal life in downtown Chicago,” he said. “Where’s the balance in that? I don’t know.”

 

Reilly announces updates to Parcel O plans

Staff report

In late September, Alderman Brendan Reilly announced that Magellan Development agreed to work a number of public improvements into their project at 193 North Columbus Drive, commonly known as Parcel O.

The public improvements came from a public meeting held with the New Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR) in July. Reilly pointed out that the development group did not need to agree to any public improvements by law, but they agreed to build the improvements after extensive negotiations with Reilly. In a recent newsletter, Reilly credited the public support for the public improvements with the success of the negotiations.

Magellan will pay for the improvements, which are expected to aid pedestrian and traffic safety.

The proposed improvements include a pedway connection through Village Market and Blue Cross/Blue Shield to the greater pedway, improved lighting, public elevators servicing the 3 levels of Columbus Dr., as well as numerous improvements for pedestrians and vehicles.

Some of those improvements include:
•    A new traffic signal will be installed at Upper Columbus and East South Water Street.
•    At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, the crosswalk will be realigned on the south leg of the intersection. The east end of the crosswalk will move to the corner next to the Aqua building rather than the corner next to the fire station.
•    At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, a curb bump-out on the southwest corner will be installed to narrow the roadway and pedestrian crossing distance on Columbus Drive.

Reilly said the project must get Lakefront Protection Approval from the Chicago Plan Commission, and when that vote occurs, Reilly will announce it in his newsletter.

CAPS meeting dominated by noise complaints

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

At the August Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting in the 001st District, Sgt. Anthony Dombrowski announced new options for homeless residents in the area.

Dombrowski said some of the shelters will now admit pets as well as people who are intoxicated and who would otherwise be tossed out of other shelters. One new shelter, operated by the Franciscan Outreach program, is specifically for people on Lower Wacker in the downtown area.

Meanwhile, area residents complained about bucket boys and the noise they make, playing buckets for tips from tourists.

Dombrowski said if people are bothered by noise, they should call police because regular patrol officers are not always there to enforce noise restrictions without a complaint.

“You should call 911 and say that there is a noise disturbance and you want to be a complainant and speak to a police officer [in person], because you can’t be a complainant over the phone.”

Upgrades coming to Lakeshore East Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

After complaints of graffiti, vandalism and general wear and tear at Lakeshore East Park, repairs are finally coming.

According to a letter from the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly, Magellan Development Group, the park’s developer, have long term improvements planned. These include replacing the play area surface material in the tot lot and new playground equipment that will offer more activities for children of all ages.

Gabby Hart, the director of planning and development for Reilly’s office, confirmed the plans. “Plans are in place for full replacement of the playground surface and upgrades to the playground equipment are planned as well,” Hart said.

Hart said the tot lot will be closed when repairs are being made, but will otherwise remain open throughout the project.

Repairs to the surface area are already underway. The other improvements are expected to take place over the next few months and be completed by the end of the year.

SOAR serving lunch to first responders, Streeterville

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Once again, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) is preparing for its annual First Responders Appreciation Day. The event will be held Sept. 13, from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Chicago Fire Department Engine Company 98, 202 E. Chicago Ave.

Bob Johnson, chairman of the safety and sound management taskforce for SOAR, said the event is a way to give back to the men and women who keep the neighborhood safe.

“The organization wanted to give thanks to our firefighters and our police officers and our paramedics who serve the community,” he explained. “We think they do a terrific job.”

In addition to the public luncheon, SOAR will deliver sandwiches from Timothy O’Toole’s Pub to the 18th Precinct District at 10 p.m. to recognize the overnight shift workers.

This year, the event moved from the Lakeshore Field House to a fire station two blocks west. Johnson said in prior years, getting the firefighters to go to an offsite location and then sit down for a meal could be tricky, especially if a fire broke out.

“The firefighters never got a chance to attend the event because they’d walk in, get a bite of food and then get called out,” he said.

However, Johnson said the event is for the community and not just for first responders.“Just show up,” he said. “Come as you are.”

Johnson said that while a local alderman or congressman might stop in, the lunch is less a political event as it is a way to build community.

“We just think it would be nice for our first responders to get to know our people and for our people to get to know them.”

Johnson said the lunch has been an event for years, and is something of a tradition in Streeterville.

“I think it was done shortly after the 9/11 [ceremonies], as a way to remember the 343 firefighters killed in 9/11,” he said. “It’s a time of year we think of them more so than during the rest of the year.”

For more information, visit the SOAR website, soarchicago.org.

Who says New Eastside’s not a real neighborhood?

“We are New Eastside, proud and strong. From Randolph Street to Wacker Drive, Michigan Avenue to the Lakefront— and we are getting bigger and better all the time.” – Jon Cohn

By Tom Conroy | Staff Writer

A recent article in Chicago Magazine highlighted several neighborhoods they deemed “straight-up fake,” claiming that “real estate [executives] toss around fictionalized neighborhood names with abandon.”

New Eastside, which joined Tally’s Corner, NoCa and Noble Square on the list, was described as being part of Streeterville. The magazine claimed New Eastside has little legitimacy because it is interchangeably referred to as Lakeshore East and River East.

While the magazine could not be reached for comment, several members of the community had something to say about the story:

“Streeterville and the New Eastside are separated by the Chicago River. Rivers are
dividing geographical markers like the Rio Grande and the Mississippi, so it really is a bold claim to make that Streeterville is New Eastside.

New Eastside is often considered part of the Loop, but the ‘L’ train that makes the Loop is not that close to us, because we are located east of Michigan Ave., another big dividing road. It’s the unique concentration of residential towers around a six-acre Lake Shore East Park, that makes the area feel like a real neighborhood within the city. I have never heard the place called River East.” — Elaine Hyde, editor of New Eastside News

“We got [Google] to add the New Eastside label to our very defined neighborhood by sharing the heading of the neighborhood website—neweastside.org, created in 1999—including a picture and reference to the dozen official city signs that have survived the elements and still identify our 1981 Illinois incorporated, non-profit New Eastside identity.”
— Richard Ward, president of the New Eastside Association of Residents

“Apparently, local real estate executives are getting a bit confused with the vast
growing array of Chicago neighborhoods, each with their own catchy name. Now, we can understand the confusion, but c’mon folks. The area Chicago Magazine listed as the New Eastside or Lakeshore East was described as ‘a plot of high rises at the mouth of the Chicago River, north of Millenium Park and south of Illinois Street. That is not us. That’s Streeterville!”

“Streeterville is close by and has a grand tradition of its own here in Chicago.
But let’s get it right, boys and girls. Our beloved New Eastside is just developing its
identity. We have our set boundaries, too. We don’t need to be caught in the shadows of our older brother just to the north. “We are New Eastside, proud and strong. From Randolph Street to Wacker Drive, Michigan Avenue to the Lakefront — and we are getting bigger and better all the time.” — Jon Cohn, community contributor to New Eastside News

The New Eastside community has spoken, and they are proud to identify with this neighborhood. It might behoove Chicago Magazine to have a conversation with neighborhood residents before they deliver their damning proclamations from up on high.

Shopping carts wreak havoc at condos

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

The carts keep coming.

And, at the Tides, that’s a problem.

On any given day, New Eastside residents leave as many as 10 to 15 empty Mariano’s shopping carts outside the door of the 360 E. South Water St. apartment building, according to Tides doorman John King.

“They have them all over the place, making the place look cheap,” King said.

King isn’t alone in his criticism. “I’ve seen them accumulated outside our building—it just looks horrible, to be honest,” said Tina Moutzouros, the assistant business manager at the Tides.

Some residents want to take the carts even further. “Sometimes they want to bring the whole cart upstairs as well, which is definitely not acceptable,” she said. “We have our own carts and if they need help they can ask for them.”

Moutzouros said the Tides’ sister building, the Shoreham, has the same problem.

The two buildings sit opposite Mariano’s, separated by Lake Shore East Park, an easy distance on foot. “It’s a convenience for residents,” Moutzouros said. “But if they take them they should be taking them back, which isn’t happening.”

While Mariano’s displays signs asking customers to keep the carts on site, shoppers of the Lakeshore East location seem to ignore the signs. Moutzouros said the Tides does not have a policy explicitly banning carts from the front of the building, but she wants the grocery store to send its employees to collect the carts more often.

Amanda Puck, a spokesperson for Mariano’s, said the store is willing to help out and the store has given phone numbers to all the door people at nearby apartments.

“We love being part of the community and we try to be proactive in getting the carts back to the store,” Puck said. “If anyone needs us to do that, they are welcome to give us a call.”

Puck explained that during slow hours, stores will send employees out to retrieve carts, even the ones left in front of apartments. But Moutzouros said this isn’t happening as often as it needs to.

“Craig, one of our concierges, he has been in contact with one of the managers. He said he was sending somebody from Mariano’s to go around and collect the carts,” she said. “But it doesn’t seem to be happening as often as it should.”

Published August 1, 2018

Visitors have a hoot with Wings and Talons

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published July 31, 2018

For the most part, unless you go out at night,  you’ll miss the raptors on patrol downtown, swooping down to catch prey right in Chicago’s front yard.

But, a few times each summer, the team at Wings and Talons brings a few rehabilitated birds to Lurie Garden for free daytime shows they call Raptors! wherein garden visitors can learn about the habits of these birds.

Wings and Talons is a non-profit based in the northwest suburbs that provides care and shelter for raptors that can’t survive on their own. The group also supports education, wildlife stewardship and conservation. The organization, which calls these birds “nature’s fighter jets,” was founded in 2016 by a group of volunteers who share a passion for educating the public about birds of prey.

Currently in their care are a male and female red-tailed hawk, an eastern screech owl, a great horned owl, a barred owl, an American kestrel, a broad-winged hawk and a turkey vulture. 

This barred owl was on hand to wow crowds at the July Raptors! event in Lurie Garden. The group Wings and Talons will return Aug. 14. Photo by Taylor Hartz.

On July 10, Wings and Talons brought the male red-tailed hawk, the eastern screech owl, the barred owl, and the broad-winged hawk to Lurie Garden and set up shop.

With the skyline towering above, volunteers stood in a grassy area with the birds perched on their hands, ready to educate folks who wandered through the garden and those who came specifically to check out the birds.

For these events, there is no sign-up, no ticketing and no formal talk. Rather, visitors simply walk up to the volunteers and ask whatever questions they like.

“We like educating people because the more they know about these birds the more they know about what’s living right around their neighborhoods,” said volunteer Larry Devera, with a red-tailed hawk perched on his arm. “These could be living right in your backyard.”

Red-tailed hawks live in our area, but others, like the broad winged hawk, made quite the journey to end up in Illinois.

This bird migrates in flocks known as kettles all the way to South America each year, preying on frogs, toads and small rodents, or even other birds, invertebrates and bigger reptiles.

The female hawk at Lurie Garden came to Wings and Talons from the Carolina Raptor Center due to a wing injury.

Coming up on her second birthday, the red-tailed hawk came to Wings and Talons after suffering head trauma from hitting a window in 2016. She injured her eye and can no longer hunt but if she could, Illinois would provide the perfect environment.

“In the Midwest it’s very common for them to swell in forests or by the water,” said volunteer Christine Richtor-Duff,  “We just don’t see them much because they come out at night.”

But even though these birds are adapted to live in the urban environment, they did not start off that way.

“There are a lot of theories about what they evolved from,” said Richtor-Duff. The most common theory is they evolved from dinosaurs.

“There are so many similarities in talons and bone structure to dinosaurs like velociraptors,” said Richtor Duff.

Other birds, like owls and vultures, have been in their present form for quite some time, without adapting or changing much over the course of human history.

Guests were able to get a close-up look at a black-eyed barred owl. The 11-year-old bird was not injured, but imprinted on humans at a young age, and was therefore unable to return to the wild.

Also on hand was a small eastern screech owl on a perch near the group’s information table. This little bird, standing about five inches high, isn’t native to the area, but is nearly identical to the western screech owl, which can be found throughout Illinois.

Lakeshore East Regatta resident Bill Evans came to check out the birds with his 9-year-old daughter, Brielle Evans.

Brielle, a fourth-grader at Ogden International School, is a huge fan of owls. She was even carrying a colorful owl shaped purse as she checked out the birds.

Her love of the birds is in part due to her school — the mascot at Ogden is the owl. The Evans family are also members of the nearby University Club, which also uses the owl as its mascot.

Bill thought the display from Wings and Talons was a great way to bring nature and wildlife into the heart of the city.

“I think it’s wonderful to have such an educational thing here in the city,” said Evans, “Especially for kids who don’t have access to the wild; it creates an awareness for them.”

Wings and Talons will return to the Lurie Garden for another session of Raptors! On Aug. 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Go like a pro to Millennium Park’s summer events

By Julie Whitehair | Community Contributor

Published July 4, 2018

Millennium Park is a hub of summer entertainment for tourists and Chicago- ans alike. From free movies to ticketed concerts, Millennium—and its Jay Pritzker Pavilion—often draws a crowd. Here’s how to enjoy the park’s performances like a pro.

Get there early

Make sure to get to Millennium Park well before the performance starts—the general admission lawn fills up fast for the park’s most hyped shows. Definitely don’t arrive
late, or you might end up sitting on the hard concrete ground for the rest of the night. Keep an eye on the park’s Twitter account @Millennium_Park for updates, incase the crowd reaches capacity.

Bring refreshments—but check if alcohol is allowed at your event

Food and non-alcoholic beverages are always allowed at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, but a few events prohibit any outdoor alcohol. You can check which days alcohol is prohibited at the City of Chicago’s website and expect officials to check bags at the entrance—the city’s placing a new security perimeter and bag check for all events at the pavilion this summer.

As for food, some visitors pick up sandwiches for a snack, while others bring a full-on spread—tiny tables, gourmet cheese platters and all. Just make sure any coolers are smaller than 26 inches long, 15 inches wide and 15 inches in height and avoid bringing metal knives or cutlery in order to adhere to the park’s guidelines listed on
their website.

Pick a spot to meet ahead of
time

Meeting up with friends can be difficult when they’re giving vague directions to where they’re sitting. Avoid this by meeting outside the park or designating a spot near a notable location ahead of time—don’t be the person obnoxiously standing and waving in the crowd right before a show begins.

1 2 3 11